The average person typically falls asleep within 10-20 minutes of hitting the pillow. If you are lying awake at night tossing and turning longer than you would like, you may have already tried some of the commonly recommended sleep-promoting suggestions like reducing your evening caffeine consumption or maintaining a consistent sleep schedule. Maybe you've even tried creating a nightly routine to help signal your brain that sleep is coming soon, as so many sleep experts recommend.
If your sleep-promoting solutions have not produced the results you are looking for, consider the value of adding a cup of herbal tea to your nightly routine. Herbal teas have been used for centuries to promote health and wellness, and several varieties of natural plants are known to support restful sleep.
The Potential Consequences of Sleep Deprivation
If you are getting enough quality sleep, you should wake each morning feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, ideally waking before the alarm sounds. The ability to fall asleep faster, and spend less time tossing and turning, could be just enough additional rest to get your day off to a good start.
If you are not getting an adequate amount of sleep, you are likely aware of the short-term consequences, feeling drained, tired, irritable, or emotional.
It's important to understand the long-term effects of sleep deprivation are cumulative. Chronic sleep deprivation, even just a few hours each week, can take a significant toll on your health and wellbeing. Some of the many health risks that increase with chronic sleep deprivation include:
- Intensification of chronic pain
- Digestive disturbances
- Increased risk of anxiety and depression
- Difficulty maintaining or losing weight
- Higher risk of developing atherosclerosis (plaque in arteries}
- Increased risk of heart attack or stroke
- Higher risk of some types of cancer
- Increased risk of developing diabetes
For some people the process of unwinding and falling asleep can take hours, significantly impacting the amount of sleep they get during the night. Many people who have difficulty relaxing and falling asleep rely on the sleep-promoting benefits of adding herbal tea to their nightly routine.
The Sleep-Promoting Benefits of Natural Herbs
Herbal tea is not the same as the black, green, or white tea cultivated from tea plants. Herbal tea is merely an infusion of a particular herb in hot water. Some herbal teas are made with plant flowers, while others come from the seeds, leaves, or roots of the plant.
Plant infusions have been used medicinally throughout recorded history. While our distant ancestors may not have understood the science behind their observations, they understood natural herbs could be used to promote good health and treat a variety of common ailments. Researchers today have provided us with a better understanding of how and why certain plant infusions affect our bodies.
The following herbal infusions are shown to provide a multitude of sleep-promoting benefits:
Chamomile is a daisy-like flower, famous for centuries as a natural remedy for numerous ailments. This caffeine-free alternative is known to be high in antioxidants that could reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer. Chamomile contains the sleep-promoting antioxidant apigenin.
One study published in BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine concluded those who indulge in chamomile tea fell asleep up to 15 minutes sooner than the control group. Chamomile is also beneficial for soothing digestive disturbances, calming the symptoms of anxiety, and minimizing the symptoms of the common cold.
Lavender tea comes from the small purple flowers of the lavender plant. Many people find the fragrance of lavender soothing and relaxing, a welcomed bonus to lavender’s sleep-promoting benefits. Lavender also provides antiseptic and anti-bacterial benefits. If muscle soreness or leg cramps are keeping you from falling asleep, you may find the antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties of lavender particularly beneficial. Lavender tea promotes rest and is a natural sedative.
There are nearly 500 known species of passionflower. Some species of passionflower are shown to provide therapeutic benefits. To alleviate stress and promote sleep, consider the benefits of Passiflora incarnata. Native to North, Central, and South America, Passionflower is a mildly sedative herb that influences GABA receptors to calm the overexcited central nervous system.
Passionflower is a known muscle relaxant that can help when stress and tension are keeping you awake. Because of passionflower’s sedative-like effects, you should not use passionflower tea in combination with other muscle relaxing or sleep-inducing drugs.
Lemongrass, a favorite ingredient in Thai cooking, is a tall stalk known for its lemon-like aroma. Commonly known as citronella, lemongrass is often used in aromatherapy to uplift moods, alleviate stress, and freshen the air. In folk medicine, this antimicrobial plant is famous for treating oral infections, pain relief, boosting the functions of the immune system, and promoting sleep.
While lemongrass tea is shown to provide anti-cancer benefits and promote healthy digestion, it's important to know that lemongrass can also act as a diuretic, reduce systolic blood pressure, and slow the heart rate. Anyone with cardiac concerns should consult their physician before indulging in lemongrass tea as part of their nightly routine.
Whether you prefer purchasing prepackaged ginger tea or making an infusion from fresh ginger root, ginger tea is beneficial for reducing joint and muscle pain, alleviating nausea and stomach discomfort, and promoting sleep. You can safely consume up to four cups of ginger tea a day to reap the benefits, but consuming five or more cups a day of fresh ginger tea could have the opposite effect.
Drinking too much ginger tea could cause digestive upset and keep you awake. If you are using a prepared tea bag, you may be able to consume more than four cups during the day since tea bags are typically less potent than a fresh ginger root infusion.
Fall Asleep Faster with a Cup of Herbal Tea
Adding a cup of herbal tea to your nightly ritual could help you fall asleep faster and sleep more comfortably during the night. If you are nursing, pregnant, or taking medications, please consult with your health care provider before adding herbal remedies to your diet.
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